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 head:  CHILDREN  OF  IMMIGRANTS  IN  USA  PUBLIC  SCHOOLS      

 
   

Children of Immigrants in U.S. Public Schools

ETR 724

Spring 2017

Khalifa Elgosbi

Yousef Alshrari

NIU
Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      

Introduction

For the purposes of this study, the term immigrants is defined as people who

migrate to the United States mainly for the purposes of education or work, or because of

economic or political distress in their countries of origin, who live in the United States

and who were not U.S. citizens at birth (United States Citizenship and Immigration

Services, 2004). This includes naturalized U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, illegal

aliens, and those on long- term temporary visas such as students or temporary workers.

GPA among schools

A large number of studies have shown that parental involvement in children’s

elementary and secondary education is linked to academic or behavioral success of

students. Research on sources of literacy problems has been working on difference

among schools and school districts because the differences are responsible for bridging

the gap between school children in terms of school GPA. Schools also realized that

differences in school performance and readiness have an important influence on how

children progress to achieve higher scores in tests and examinations. Helping school

practitioners to make better decisions is an objective that all schools are trying to reach

by understanding issues and factors that are related to children’s GPA and children’s

learning in general. Depending on many factors, children are likely to encounter

problems in education and might be hindered by them. Research and experimental studies

always need to determine why and what schools differ in terms of their policies so that

they can address those problems.


Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      
 
Waldfogel (2012) conducted a study in which the author focuses on family

economic status as a factor of in-school differences among children. It seems that

children’s families and community affect negatively and positively the way school

children differ in their level of academic achievement. According to Waldfogel (2012),

children of immigrants in the US schools are influenced by factors such as their families

economic status and their parents’ proficiency in English and these factors play a great

role in deciding issues such as a child’s participation and hence achievement in school

activities.

Schools are responsible for addressing such issues as early literacy gaps, and

later gaps because although these are out-of-school factors, they contribute widely to

cause literacy differences among school populations and consequently, they lead to

problems of achievement and progress; i. e. they have a direct relationship to students’

GPA and improvement at school education. Immigrant children are more likely to

encounter problems than their counterparts of children whose parents are born and grew

in the US. Among other problems there are the problems of “low family income, low

parental education, and language barriers that place them at risk of developmental delay

and poor academic performance once they enter school” (Karoly, & Gonzalez, 2011, p.

71).

According to Denessen, Bakker, and Gierveld (2007), immigrant parents lack

parent involvement in their children’s school activities because e of their ethnic minority

problems such as cultural and linguistic barriers and eventually these problems affect the

students GPA in many ways. Authors and research writers recommend teacher training as
Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      

a solution for parent engagement challenges in order to develop teachers’ ability to help

their students improve their GPA scores once the teachers and school staff can

communicate effectively with parents. Furthermore, immigrants’ family economic status

is also another problem that, according to the current literature, is affecting students GPA

dramatically. However, despite the many research studies that have addressed this

problem, solutions are still limited by the disadvantages, which immigrant children

encounter due to their situation, and thus providing a programs of support for immigrant

children seems to be the only solution to help them become better learning adults.

(Hernandez, 2004; Karoly, & Gonzalez, 2011).

Family economic status

Family economic status has been the focus of many studies both quantitatively

and qualitatively. The significance of this issue lies in the fact that it can directly affect

the child’s indulgence and test scores. Research has investigated potential problems for

immigrant children who attend US school programs and tried to determine factors that

are significant in enhancing educational development for immigrant children. The study

aimed at concentrating on low rates of participation that might characterize the learning

habits of immigrant schools and consequently affect their progress and achievement at

school both on their short and long-term school career. However, (Karoly, & Gonzalez,

2011) have pointed out that the elements of immigrant family economic status and

demographic characteristics are the most serious factors affecting the progress and

wellness of immigrant children in US in general.

According to Karoly and Gonzalez (2011), who investigated immigrant

children’s participation in early care and education (ECE), there is a participation gap that
Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      
 
can be explained by mainly by economic and socio-demographic factors, and that the

immigrant family’s economic status is a major factor. According to Hernandez (2004),

who investigated demographic change and the life circumstances of immigrant families

in the US, poverty rates are considerably higher for immigrant children than for children

of native-born families. The percentages showed a large gap between the poverty rates of

immigrant children (21%) and those of children belonging to native-born families (14%).

Therefore, the author suggested that educational policies and programs should focus on

abridging this gap by improving the wellness, academic achievement, and health care of

the immigrant children, who would be in need of these services more than their

counterparts. The factor of immigrant family economic status has a large impact on the

immigrant children in that it distinguishes them at US schools as lacking readiness and

achievement compared to their native-born counterparts and thus immigrant children

suffer from a gap, which does not only stop them from improving during school years,

but is also likely to cause them drop out from school at early development years.

Immigrant children are disadvantaged and economic status is held responsible for their

failures by most research studies (Hernandez, 2004; Karoly, & Gonzalez, 2011).

Research studies also pointed out that there are some solutions to the immigrant children

problems that are caused by their families’ economic situation. For example Gordon, &

Liu (2015), suggested that teachers and school staff where schools are experiencing

immigrant children achievement gap should help immigrant families with programs of

awareness to the differences between education in the united states and their own home

countries from which they have arrived. This awareness might help the parents not to

under-estimate the problems of their children by ignoring the challenges of US


Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      

educational system for immigrant children. Another recommendation came from (Karloly

and Gonzalez (2011), who support that a lot of teacher training is needed, especially

around the issues of communicating with immigrant parents about their children’s

educational progress and about challenges regarding student scores. Such training should

include development of communication and research skills to improve the teachers and

school staff abilities toward following statistically and educationally the situation of the

immigrant students and discuss them with their parents.

School location

Shodavaram, Jones, Weaver, Márquez, and Ensle (2009) conducted a study to

examine the immigrant children’s Although immigrant families have traditionally

settled in urban areas they are increasingly also settling in suburban areas (Camarota,

2002). According to the 2000 United States Census, 49.7% of immigrants lived in

suburbs, compared to 49.8% U.S. born residents who reported living in the suburbs

(Camarota, 2002). Therefore, immigrants are just as likely as people who are born in the

U.S. to live in the suburbs.

The large number of immigrants who live in suburban areas could be interpreted

as a positive sign that immigrants are successfully integrating into U.S. society and

obtaining a middle class standard of living. However, some immigrants who are well

educated and enjoyed middle-class lifestyles in their home countries often find

themselves struggling to survive. They had to leave all belongings behind, and their

credentials are not recognized in this country. Consequently, they cannot find

employment commensurate with their education, and many times they cannot find

employment with a reasonable wage (Goodwin, 2002).


Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      
 
Rising numbers of immigrants in the United States have impacted the public

school system. This increasing number of immigrants means that there are also increasing

numbers of immigrant children whose first language is not English. Regardless of their

backgrounds, the children of suburban immigrants share in their parents’ sense of

displacement, which in turn may affect their school achievement (Cornelius, 1995;

Suarez-Orozco & Suarez- Orozco, 2001).

Liang (2015) cited authors (Rosenbaum, DeLuca, & Tuck, 2005; South &

Crowder, 1997), who support that social and economic statuses are influential criteria in

choosing schools and school districts. According to previous research, it seems that

middle-class families are usually able to live in more affordable districts and their

children are at the advantage of a better school programs. On the other hand, children of

immigrant families with poverty problems are usually trapped in less financially

supported schools and they are more likely to be deprived from educational policies and

programs that are beneficial to them.

Research Method

For the purpose of this class, we used a secondary data set provided by the

instructor of the course Dr. Tom Smith. The data is from a study about children of

immigrants in the US schools. The study surveyed 5262 immigrant children in 66

schools and includes 148 variables. This longitudinal study aims to investigate how

family current economic situation School location predict students’ GPA.

Variables  
Level one included the independent variable of family current economic situation

and the outcome variable of GPA. Independent variables of family current economic

situation (V44) coded as 1= Poor, 2= Working class, 3= Lower-middle class, 4=


Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      

Upper-middle class 5= Wealthy (ordinal variable), and School location (V 147) coded

as 0= suburban and 1= Inner city (dichotomous variable). The dependent variable is

students’ GPA (V 139) (interval variable). Both dependent and independent variables

are continues variable. Since the variables of GPA and family current economic

situation are nested in the cluster variable of school location, schools are considered

level two cluster of this paper.

Research Question and the Appropriate Multilevel Models

1. Is there a statistically significant variation in students’ GPA among schools?


(Null Module ANOVA)

Level 1:  Studen𝑡  𝐺𝑃𝐴 = 𝛽!! + 𝒓𝒊𝒋


Level 2: 𝛽!! = 𝛾!! +  𝜇!!

2. Does family current economic situation predict student GPA?

(ANCOVA Model)

Level 1:  Student  GPA = 𝛽!! + 𝛽!! (FCES) + 𝑟!"


Level 2: 𝛽!! = 𝛾!! +  𝜇!!
𝛽!! = 𝜸𝟏𝟎

3. Does school location predict  Students′  GPA?


(Means-as-outcomes Model)

Level  1:  Student  GPA = 𝛽!! + 𝑟!"  


Level  2:  𝛽!! = 𝛾!! + 𝛾!" (school  location)  +  𝜇!!

4. Does school location predict the differences in students’ GPA, controlling for

family current economic situation?

(Intercepts and slopes as outcomes model)

Level  1:  Student  GPA = 𝛽!! + 𝛽!! (FCES) + 𝑟!"  


Level  2:  𝛽!! = 𝛾!! + 𝛾!" (school  location)  +  𝜇!!  
                           𝛽!! = 𝛾!" + 𝛾!! school  location +  𝜇!!  
Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      
 
Hypothesis

Q4.1: Does school location predict the effect of FCES on students’ GPA?

Null Hypothesis: There is no effect of school location in students’ GPA


Alternative hypothesis: There is an effect of school location in students’ GPA

(Intercepts and slopes as outcomes model)

Level  1:  Student  GPA = 𝛽!! + 𝛽!! (FCES) + 𝑟!"  


Level  2:  𝛽!! = 𝛾!! + 𝛾!" (school  location)  +  𝜇!!  
                           𝛽!! = 𝛾!" + 𝛾!! school  location +  𝜇!!  

Results

Descriptive data were obtained from the HLM output as shown below which describe

the variables name, number of participants (n= 5068), mean, and standard deviation.

Before making the DMD file we specified that there is missing values in the data. For

the outcome variable, the distribution of the residuals are normally distributed as

shown in the histogram below.

LEVEL-1 DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS

VARIABLE NAME N MEAN SD MINIMUM MAXIMUM


FCES 5068 2.76 0.87 1.00 5.00
GPA 5068 2.53 0.91 0.00 4.96

LEVEL-2 DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS

VARIABLE NAME N MEAN SD MINIMUM MAXIMUM


SCHOOLLO 42 0.45 0.50 0.00 1.00
Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      

Answering the Research Questions

Is there a statistically significant variation in students’ GPA among schools?


(Null Module ANOVA)

Level 1:  Studen𝑡  𝐺𝑃𝐴 = 𝛽!! + 𝒓𝒊𝒋


Level 2: 𝛽!! = 𝛾!! +  𝜇!!

Final estimation of variance components


Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      
 

The relevant variance components is u0 = 0.279, t(41) = 692.31, and p <0.001.Yes there

is a significant variation in students’ GPA among schools

ICC= 0.07825 ÷ (0.07825 + 0.73740) = 0.09593575675

Clustering does not matter much in this case.

For DEFF is computed as 1+[(m-1)ICC] =

DEFF = 1 + [(120.67-1) x 0.09593575675] = 12.48054145

We cannot ignore clustering. Because DEFF is > 2

Does family current economic situation predict student GPA?

(ANCOVA Model)

Level 1:  Student  GPA = 𝛽!! + 𝛽!! (FCES) + 𝑟!"


Level 2: 𝛽!! = 𝛾!! +  𝜇!!
𝛽!! = 𝜸𝟏𝟎

Final estimation of fixed effects:

The relevant fixed effect is γ10 = 0.0214, t(5025) = 1.505, and p > 0.132. No, Family

current economy status does not predict students’ GPA.

Does school location predict  𝐒𝐮𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬′  𝐆𝐏𝐀?


(Means-as-outcomes Model)
Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      

Level  1:  Student  GPA = 𝛽!! + 𝑟!"  


Level  2:  𝛽!! = 𝛾!! + 𝛾!" (school  location)  +  𝜇!!

Final estimation of fixed effects:

The fixed effect of school location is γ01 = -0.195197, with t(40) = -2.211, p < .033. Yes

school location does predict students’ GPA. Because Gamma01 is negative, this is a

negative effect which means Suburban schools have higher average GPAs than Inner City

schools.

Final estimation of variance components

Standard Variance
Random Effect d.f. χ2 p-value
Deviation Component
INTRCPT1, u0 0.26519 0.07033 40 613.80384 <0.001
level-1, r 0.85873 0.73742

Interpretation  of  R2  


 
!.!"#"$!!.!"!##
R2  =   !.!"#"$
 =  0.74858        or  75%    
 
The portion of variance in students’ GPA explained by school location as indicated by

the correlation coefficient shows that the percentage increases as the school location

factors were added. They explained variance scored 75% in students’ GPA with the

greatest proportion of variance explained by suburban schools.


Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      
 
Does school location predict the differences in students’ GPA, controlling for family

current economic situation?

(Intercepts and slopes as outcomes model)

Level  1:  Student  GPA = 𝛽!! + 𝛽!! (FCES) + 𝑟!"  


Level  2:  𝛽!! = 𝛾!! + 𝛾!" (school  location)  +  𝜇!!  
                           𝛽!! = 𝛾!" + 𝛾!! school  location +  𝜇!!  

Final estimation of fixed effects:

The relevant fixed effect is γ01 = -0.204279, with p < .026. Yes, school location

significantly predicts students’ GPA when controlling for FCES. We used Grand Mean

Centering because we need to allow the effect to be different from each school by

allowing all the means to vary.

Final estimation of variance components

Standard Variance
Random Effect d.f. χ2 p-value
Deviation Component
INTRCPT1, u0 0.26406 0.06973 40 576.80670 <0.001
FCES slope, u1 0.03809 0.00145 40 53.30937 0.077
level-1, r 0.85721 0.73481
 
 
Interpretation  of  R2  
 
Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      

!.!"#"$!!.!"#$%
R2  =   !.!"#"$
 =  0.750697  or  75%    

Differences in students’ GPA explained by school location when controlling for family

current economic situation scored percentage of 75%. This indicates that any increase in

school location scores leads to an increase in GPA. The explained variance in students’

GPA increased as the school location factors were added.

Hypothesis

Does school location predict the effect of FCES on students’ GPA?

Null Hypothesis: There is no effect of school location in students’ GPA


Alternative hypothesis: There is an effect of school location in students’ GPA
(Intercepts and slopes as outcomes model)

Level  1:  Student  GPA = 𝛽!! + 𝛽!! (FCES) + 𝑟!"  


Level  2:  𝛽!! = 𝛾!! + 𝛾!" (school  location)  +  𝜇!!  
                           𝛽!! = 𝛾!" + 𝛾!! school  location +  𝜇!!  

Final estimation of fixed effects:

The relevant fixed effect is Gamma11 = 0.099847, with p = .003. Yes school location does

predict the effect of FCES on students’ GPA. Because .003 is less than alpha = .05, we

reject the null hypothesis of no effect. The nature of the fixed effect is positive, this
Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      
 
means that the effect of FCES (0= suburban and 1= Inner city) becomes larger if school

locations mean score gets larger.

Discussion

The testing of this data set started with the question: “Is there a significant

variation in students’ GPA among schools?” to see whether the level one variable are

nested in further clusters that make them available to be studied using hierarchal

modeling procedures. The analyses of the null model showed that significant variations

do exist among the different schools from, which the data were collected. With the p

value of p <0.001, u0 = 0.279, and t (41) = 692.31, we can conclude that clustering cannot

be ignored. In general, student GPA has been the center of many investigations and

authors have concluded that the relationships between students GPA and many other

factors such as economic status, family educational background, and school location.

According to Hernandez (2004), who investigated demographic change and the life

circumstances of immigrant families in the US, poverty rates are considerably higher for

immigrant children than for children of native-born families. The percentages showed a

large gap between the poverty rates of immigrant children (21%) and those of children

belonging to native-born families (14%).

Analyses and hierarchal modeling of the set of data for this study showed that the

values of γ10 = 0.0214, t (5025) = 1.505, and p > 0.132 indicate non-significance of

“Family current economy situation” FCES in predicting students’ GPA. This finding is

very interesting, because nearly all prior research, which focuses on family economic

status as a factor of in-school differences among children concluded that the relationship
Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      

is positive among school achievement and the children’s family current social and

economic situation (Karoly & Gonzalez, 2011; Waldfogel, 2012).

However, the study proved consistent with previous research in the size and the

nature of the FCES effect on school location. The study showed that when it comes to

selection of school location, the scores tend to show an effect of family social and

economic statuses causing them to be influential criteria in choosing schools and school

districts (Liang, 2015; Rosenbaum, DeLuca, & Tuck, 2005; South & Crowder, 1997;

Waldfogel, 2012). According to the data output, the fixed effect of school location is γ01

= -0.195197, with t(40) = -2.211, with a p value of p < .033. This can be interpreted as:

school location does predict students’ GPA. At the same time this finding is in line with

research studies, which concluded that middle-class families are usually able to live in

more affordable districts and their children are at the advantage of a better school

programs. The study also revealed a negative effect of school location on FCES, which

means any one unit increase in suburban schools, is met by a decrease in the overall mean

GPA scores.

The study also investigated if school location predicts the differences in students’

GPA, controlling for family current economic situation. We used grand mean centering to

answer this question Centering because we need to allow the effect to be different from

each school by allowing all the means to vary. It turned out that the relevant fixed effect

is γ01 = -0.204279, with p < .026, which clearly indicates that school location

significantly predicts students’ GPA when controlling for FCES. School location was

also the focus of this study in another question that asked the possibility of using school

location to predict the effect of FCES on students’ GPA. The study here departs from the
Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      
 
null hypothesis that says ‘There is no effect of school location in students’ GPA’; and the

positive hypothesis that says “There is an effect of school location in students’ GPA”.

The relevant fixed effect Gamma11 was computed and it was = 0.099847. The p value

is p = .003, which is less than alpha = .05, so we reject the null hypothesis of no effect.

The nature of the fixed effect is positive, which means an increase in the effect of FCES

should lead to an increase in the mean scores of school locations and vice versa. Clearly,

this finding is consistent with previous research of Karoly and Gonzalez (2011), who

investigated immigrant children’s participation in early care and education (ECE), there

is a participation gap that can be explained by mainly by economic and socio-

demographic factors, and that the immigrant family’s economic status is a major factor.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Children  of  Immigrants  in  U.S.  Public  Schools      

References
 
Denessen, E., Bakker, J., & Gierveld, M. (2007). Multi-ethnic schools' parental

involvement policies and practices. School Community Journal, 17(2), 27.

Hernandez, D. J. (2004). Demographic change and the life circumstances of

immigrant families. The future of children, 17-47.

Liang, S. (2015). What Strategies Do Chinese Immigrant Parents Use to Send

Their Children to High-Performing Public School Districts? School Community

Journal, 25(2), 135-152.

Karoly, L. A., & Gonzalez, G. C. (2011). Early care and education for children in

immigrant families. The Future of Children, 21(1), 71-101.

Shodavaram, M. P., Jones, L. A., Weaver, L. R., Márquez, J. A., & Ensle, A. L.

(2009). Education of non-European ancestry immigrant students in suburban high

schools. Multicultural Education, 16(3), 29.

Waldfogel, J. (2012). The role of out-of-school factors in the literacy

problem. The Future of Children, 22(2), 39-54.